I’m not a person who craves fruit year-round, but once May hits and the weather turns from gray and cold to sunny and warm, I find myself with a hunger for juicy strawberries, blackberries, and pineapple. Normally, (you know when we’re not in the middle of a pandemic), spring brings the freedom to visit the produce section multiple times a week, weekend walks around the farmers’ market, or even a fun afternoon picking berries yourself. But obviously that’s not happening right now.
Since trips to the grocery store are currently happening more infrequently, stocking up on frozen fruits is your best bet to getting your fruit fix—along with all the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that fruit normally offers. (Yes, they’re just as good for you as the fresh kind. No, you don’t need to be afraid of fruit’s natural sugar content if you’re consuming in moderation.)
Feeling skeptical? We asked registered dietitian Crystal Cascio, RD, to share some of the best frozen fruits that she loves to have in her kitchen for delicious snacking and easy cooking. Keep reading for her picks.
The best frozen fruits to always have on-hand, according to an RD
1. frozen cherries
Cascio says she loves keeping a bag of frozen cherries on hand, saying they’re a completely underrated healthy frozen fruit. “Cherries have a ton of potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin B,” she says. She likes to incorporate frozen cherries right into her breakfast by adding them to her oatmeal, simply placing the cherries in the microwave for 30 seconds, so that they are partially thawed. Then, just add them straight to your bowl.
The potassium in cherries also makes them a great workout recovery snack (since potassium is an electrolyte), so Cascio says including them in a post-run or post-virtual workout smoothie can help nourish muscles. One study published in the European Journal of Sports Science found that cherry concentrate lead to less muscle soreness post-workout.
“Another fun fact about cherries is that they have melatonin, which is linked to better sleep,” Cascio says. “So you can also enjoy this fruit as a pre-bedtime snack.” One way to do it: Heat some dark chocolate in the microwave for 20 seconds or until it’s melted, and dip the thawed cherries in it.
2. frozen papaya
Okay, so you probably aren’t going on any tropical vacations anytime soon, but at least you can get a taste of somewhere beachy with this frozen fruit. “Even when fresh papaya is hard to get, almost every grocery store has frozen papaya,” Cascio says. She’s a fan of this fruit because of its fiber, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A) content.
“Papaya is another fruit that’s great for immunity,” she says. “It has over 200 percent of the amount of vitamin C you need for the day.” Take that, oranges.
Cascio says that papaya can also help with constipation and bloating due to the enzyme papin, which helps digest proteins. This makes it a great after-dinner snack. Try it by making vegan nice-cream; just use your blender or food processor to blend your frozen papaya with the plant-based milk of your choice. (Coconut milk works well because it’s thicker than other alt-milks.) Then, put it in a freezer-safe container and freeze. (Or, follow this recipe. It uses fresh papaya, but frozen papaya works just as well.)
3. frozen mango
Mango is another tropical fruit that isn’t always easy to find fresh, but is available frozen at almost every grocery store. Similar to papaya, Cascio says it also helps with digestion because it’s full of probiotics and fiber, both of which are key for good gut health.
“I like putting frozen mango in my smoothies to give it a tropical feel,” Cascio says. “Some healthy eaters are put off my mango because it’s a high-sugar fruit, but because the fruit is naturally-occurring, it really isn’t anything to worry too much about,” she says.
4. frozen bananas
“Bananas are also a good pre-bedtime snack because they contain tryptophan, which is linked to better sleep,” Cascio says. “Sometimes I like to add some thawed bananas to my yogurt for a healthy dessert.” Like papaya, you can also use frozen bananas as the base for homemade vegan ice cream, too. Plus if you buy them frozen, you won’t have to deal with the stress of using them up before they turn brown and gross.
You can do so much more with bananas than just making banana bread. This is another fruit Cascio likes to quickly thaw in the microwave and then dip in melted dark chocolate. Or, you can thaw them and dip them in peanut butter for a post-workout snack. Like cherries, Cascio says that because bananas are high in potassium, they help with muscle recovery; that protein-potassium combo from the peanut butter and banana will really help your body recover.
5. frozen berries
Of course, you can’t talk about the best frozen fruits without mentioning berries. “Berries are high in fiber, vitamin C, and one of the highest antioxidant foods,” Cascio says. Whether you prefer raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, or strawberries, you’ll benefit from their nutritional goodness even when frozen.
Casico is partial to frozen blueberries. “I use them to make blueberry compote,” she says. “All you do is put the frozen blueberries in a small pan on medium-low heat. Add a little orange juice or lemon juice and ground ginger, then just wait five minutes for it to get nice and bubbly. Then, you can add it to your cereal or yogurt and it’s so, so good.”
“If you’re looking for a fruit to incorporate into your baking recipes, frozen berries are a great pick,” she adds. (Pro tip: Pour them in a bowl of cold water and cover to defrost them in five minutes; it’s more gentle on the delicate berries than defrosting in the microwave.) Once thawed, they’re ready to be folded into all the delicious homemade breads, pies, and other desserts you want to make while being safe at home.
Did you make something delicious using frozen fruit? Share it in Well+Good’s Cook With Us Facebook group.
Loading More Posts...